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Standards of Conduct Bill for Community Organizations Moves Forward

The bill authorizes the commission to suspend a community organization for bad behavior

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted Tuesday in favor of a bill that would authorize the commission to prepare "standards of conduct" regulations for registered community organizations (RCOs), though it stalled on approving the actual proposed amendments.

The bill was introduced by City Council member Kenyatta Johnson on March 3 after reports emerged that community members at a February 22 meeting in Point Breeze had used anti-semitic remarks against a developer.

Members of the Point Breeze community spoke out against the February 22 incident, claiming that no slurs or offensive terms were used. Tiffany Green of the Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze group said to the commission, "It's painful to hear these accusations. I will not let a developer put a riff between the African-American and Jewish communities."

Regardless of what was said, the commission staff stated that they had already begun work on amending the standards of conduct for RCOs before councilman Johnson proposed the bill.

Those amendments were presented at yesterday's meeting. The staff proposed that the commission would have the authority to suspend or revoke an RCO's status if it failed to follow procedure; send in meeting notes to the commission three times; or discriminated against a developer's application based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

The RCO would then be put on a two-year suspension period.

Currently, developers are required to notify RCOs if any of their projects require zoning variances. They're also encouraged to meet with the RCOs about their developments at community meetings. The requirement was put in place in 2014 by the commission as a way to ensure that residents are properly notified about developments and have the opportunity to provide input on projects occurring in their neighborhoods.

The commission ultimately decided to hold off on approving the amendments to allow more time for the staff to meet with RCO's.

Bill No. 16017700